Aug 14, 2012

Get Your (Virtual) Ass To Mars!

The landing of NASA's Curiosity rover onto the surface of Mars was exhilarating to say the least, and after updating the rover's software over the weekend, we're probably about a week away from the rover taking its first real drive around Gale crater.  In the meantime, Curiosity has already sent back some absolutely stunning pictures, including the view above.

A little poking around the web has revealed a 360 degree panoramic view of the Martian landscape, sent back from the red planet's newest resident.  (I know there are weird indicators that this panorama might actually be of New Mexico, but I think that's actually just mislabeling.  Either that I'll be apologizing later along with the LA Times and Huffington Post.)

Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 2

That is flat out astounding.

There are fewer realizations in this life that disappoint me more than the knowledge that I will almost certainly never get a chance to set foot on another planet; I therefore consider myself lucky to have the Opportunity (Martian rover pun!) to at least live in an era where I can glimpse what future generations will almost certainly get to experience firsthand.  In fact, last week I saw a similar view (seen here, courtesy of a previous rover) on my wife's cell phone while sitting in the bleachers at a football game.  Let that sink in for a minute.

We certainly live in interesting times, and there's plenty more to come!  Check out Time's spread on some of NASA's future pursuits through the Innovative Advanced Concept Program.

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